Jesus' fundamental mission on earth was to fulfill God's plan "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). He was aware of His purpose, even from a young age (Luke 2:49), and intentionally set about to fulfill it. Christ knew that God's plan for Him was to die on the cross as atonement for the sin of those who put their faith in Him and to rise again from the dead in victory over sin and death. So, towards the end of His life, Jesus deliberately made His way to Jerusalem, where He would die (Luke 9:51).
Christ came to save the sinners—to eat with them, talk with them, and show them God's love (Luke 5:32). In fact, He was often criticized for spending too much time with "sinners," those the self-righteous religious leaders of the day had cast away. Jesus not only spent time with such people, He sought them out, because His mission was to save those who needed saving. During Jesus' ministry He intentionally made a point of showing these outcasts forgiveness and offering them a new life. Examples of Christ spending time with and forgiving sinners are all throughout the Gospels. Jesus saved the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:3–11), the sinful woman with the alabaster jar (Luke 7:36–50), and His disciple Matthew who was once a tax collector (Matthew 9:9). Every human is a sinner in need of salvation (Romans 3:23), and Jesus made a way for salvation for all who put their faith in Him (John 3:16–18; 14:6; Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:28).
The wonderful mission of Christ teaches His followers that no one is too sinful or too far gone to be saved. An example of this occurs in Mark 5:1–20 when Jesus restored a man who was demon possessed. The man lived in a cave, literally cast away from society. Jesus came to save and forgive all sinners, no matter their life circumstances or past experiences. Jesus traveled and healed all kinds of people who believed in His mission, even Gentiles and Roman officials. Jesus also spoke with the religious elite of the day who were willing to listen (John 3). Jesus performed miracles and explained parables about saving the lost so that everyone could understand His purpose.
Jesus did not passively wait for the lost to come to Him, but He went after them. He explained His active mission in a parable found in Luke 15:1–7. In this parable, Jesus weaves a story about a man who loses his sheep and leaves the rest of his herd to find the one lost sheep. Jesus concludes this parable saying, "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). He tells a similar parable about a lost coin in Luke 15:8–10, again, concluding with the joy in heaven over one repentant sinner. Jesus also tells a story about a prodigal son, who returns to his father's house after making many harmful decisions that separate him from his home. The father welcomes his son with joy into his house when his son returns, just as God welcomes His children who return to Him with a repentant heart (Luke 15:21–22).
Jesus is faithful to His mission even today, and He calls all sinners to repent and join His father's house. He continues to seek and save the lost (Matthew 11:29; 18:3–4; Revelation 3:20).
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